Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peaky Blinders and By Any Means

Belated, I know, but I have to say how much I'm enjoying BBC2's Peaky Blinders.  It's about gangland in Birmingham in the immediate aftermath of World War I.  It's by Steven Knight, it stars Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Sam Neill, and it is sensational.  The industrial dystopia is rendered so accurately, it creates a sort of steam punk beauty.  The use of 21st century music with traditional folk tropes works wonderfully well.  My only reservation is the supposed police spy about to be planted on Tommy.  I have sympathy for the actress though.  It's hard to be the irresistible vamp when the man is so much better looking - and that's no disrespect to Annabelle Wallis who's stuck with the thankless task.

I gather Blinders is drawing 2 million viewers a time.  It deserves it.  Nice one, Beeb...

... but just as they launch one triumph so, inevitably, they release the stinker.  It's called By Any Means - yes, even the title is half-baked.  It inevitably stars Warren Brown as the cop.  (Do yourself a favour, Warren, the next time the Beeb offer you a cop show, turn it down.  Insist on a costume drama or a romantic comedy.)  It is absolute, unmitigated cack.  I gave up as soon as we got to the unit's secret HQ.

I appreciate that the BBC has to put something up against Downton Abbey but this ain't it.  If we wanted to watch meretricious, derivative, by-the-numbers tripe we'd be watching Downton.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Suite Francaise

Best news I've heard all summer!  Filming has started on the TV version of Irene Nemirovsky's last work, which became a huge bestseller when published half a century after she died in a concentration camp.  The book was stunning - Nemirovsky kept writing it right up to the point where the Nazis came knocking at her door.  There simply is no other version of the Jewish woman's take on the German occupation of France that bears comparison.

Michelle Williams plays Irene.  Other stars include Ruth Wilson, Lambert Wilson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Matthias Schoenarts.  Serious money is being spent - this is an Anglo-French-Belgian co-production with Weinstein money thrown in.  My only fear is that direction is by Saul Dibb, who also co-wrote the script with Matt Charman.  Dibb's previous was The Duchess with Keira Knightley.  Hopefully that was just a way of getting his foot securely on the ladder and Suite Francaise will have a touch more depth.